SUNY Downstate Receives 2014 HEED Award for Commitment to Diversity; Kevin Antoine Recognized with 2014 Visionary Diversity Award

Sep 16, 2014

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Medical Center has received the prestigious 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, which recognizes an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. In addition, Kevin Antoine, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion at SUNY Downstate, has been recognized with the magazine’s 2014 Diversity Visionary Award, the only individual honor of its kind nationally.

The magazine also bestowed the Diversity Visionary Award upon Carlos N. Medina, chief diversity officer and senior associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the State University of New York system, which was announced by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. Two other SUNY campuses received the 2014 HEED Award, SUNY Oneonta, and SUNY Buffalo State.

INSIGHT Into Diversity selected SUNY Downstate for the HEED award based on its exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives, and ability to embrace a broad definition of diversity on its campus.

"SUNY Downstate Medical Center is proud of its standing as one of the most diverse academic health centers in the nation," said John F. Williams, Jr., president of SUNY Downstate. "We are delighted that our campus has received the 2014 HEED Award, and that our assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, Kevin Antoine, has been recognized with the 2014 Diversity Visionary Award."

Dr. Joseph P. Merlino, vice president for faculty affairs and professional development, said, “Downstate’s overriding mission is the training of future generations of physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, scientists, and public health practitioners. It is a top priority at Downstate to ensure that these graduates are culturally competent and sensitive to diverse needs of diverse populations.”

“The 2014 HEED Award is a tribute to the commitment to diversity that is manifest in the daily actions and awareness of countless people at Downstate,” said Mr. Antoine. “On a personal note, I am extremely grateful to have been selected to receive the Diversity Visionary Award, which is possible only because of the support my office receives from the campus as a whole.”

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is committed to diversity and inclusive excellence in faculty, staff, and student recruitment, development, promotion and retention. In this important effort, Downstate’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) provides leadership, guidance, information, and assistance to the campus’s various constituencies in respecting cultural differences, languages, political beliefs, and ideologies. ODI is responsible for ensuring Downstate's compliance with the State University of New York's employment policies and federal and state civil rights laws and regulations. In partnership with Downstate’s University Hospital of Brooklyn, ODI promotes cultural competence to increase health equity, taking into account the diversity of patients at University Hospital and its affiliates.

SUNY Downstate’s programs that support diversity include:

The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a partnership between SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President. This is a unique community, academic, and government partnership that promises to eliminate health disparities by bringing the assets of new and diverse partners to a strategic table focused on solutions. The overarching goal of the center is to eradicate health disparities plaguing minority communities in Brooklyn.

Urban Universities for HEALTH is a four-year grant funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the NIH's National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).  The project engages five academic institutions leading innovative workforce efforts that address health disparities.

Downstate’s Science and Technology Entry Program works with local high schools to bridge the gap for students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities, in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) fields.

The STEM program in Downstate’s School of Graduate Studies brings volunteer graduate students to five local Brooklyn high schools, where they teach unique science and math curriculums. A joint program of the State University of New York, Downstate, and the New York Academy of Sciences, it is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) seeks to increase the number of individuals from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who enter the health and allied health professions. Through an educational pipeline program, HCOP provides support necessary to compete for, enter, and graduate from health or allied health professions schools.

Downstate’s Health and Education Alternatives for Teens program (HEAT), a first of its kind in Brooklyn, provides age and developmentally appropriate, culturally competent care for heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are living with or at very high risk for HIV/AIDS.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Global Diversity Initiative, which in its first project helped the Women's University in Africa (WUA) expand its library holdings through a donation of textbooks.  The WUA is the first school in Zimbabwe established specifically to educate women.

About INSIGHT Into Diversity
INSIGHT Into Diversity, celebrating its 40th year in 2014, is the largest and oldest diversity publication in higher education today. Known for its annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, this is the only award recognizing colleges and universities for outstanding diversity and inclusion efforts across campuses. Current, archived and digital issues of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine are available online at


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.